The Queer Youth Exchange participants in Johannesburg on Wednesday

Twelve young LGBTI people from across Southern Africa are taking part in a Queer Youth Exchange in Johannesburg this month.

The exchange is hosted by Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) and aims to support the development of youth leadership and to allow the activists to explore different approaches to LGBTI activism.

The 12 participants, who gathered in Johannesburg on Tuesday, have been selected from Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe and also include two South Africans.

Over the next three weeks they’ll boost their skills as activists, take part in workshops, visit LGBTI and human rights organisations across the city and have the opportunity to meet and learn from their colleagues from the southern African region.

The activists will also meet with trade unions, develop a social media strategy for Soweto Pride and attend theatre productions and a queer sports day with the Wham queer rugby group and the Chosen FEW lesbian soccer team.

“In the last three years, LGBTI communities have seen a rise in prejudice motivated violence and punitive laws across the continent,” said Gabriel Hoosain Khan, GALA’s Youth and Education Project Coordinator.

“Even in these difficult times, in countries where these identities are criminalised, LGBTI youth are resisting discrimination. This youth exchange aims to work with these youth leaders, to develop their skills to advocate for their rights and to encourage change in their communities,” Khan explained.

The queer youth exchange runs until the 29th of September.

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